After 2.5 years of covid lock down i was finally allowed to indulge in a trip. Just 10 days this time. My primary objective was to get back into free diving mode . Maybe spearfishing and some wildlife photos. The spearfishing guys were not in Amed anymore , my first stop . So I enjoyed free diving and chilling sucking in this tropical setting. Indonesia makes us Europeans low income folks feel like millionaires . A day in a bungalow with a scooter , 3 great meals plus beer is the price of royal with cheese . The staff and people are sweet and awesome with good spirits . I traveled to Nusa Penida, an island south of Amed to try to catch on camera the manta ray and mola mola . Unfortunately full moon and high sea didnt allow that. 10 days is definitely too short but I made plans for a much longer stay in the fall .
i finally found an excuse or a kick to go to tropical places. I always found it boring unless at some moon parties. Surf windsurf and kite surf are fun , it is a long learning curve, heavy expensive clumsy gear to carry around travelling. Like skiing. Scuba diving seems a bit boring. Freediving is cheap, light , gear easy and business starts at 5 meters down …it is fully immersive, immediate, intense and extreme. Freediving is a huge work on self. Isolated, pressure , depleted of oxygen in a complete new environment with weird noises, odd body feelings . loosen up or freak out and turn around. People don’t go anywhere deep unless fully calm and tuned up. It is an intense forced meditation. Perfect for my anxiety and other PTSD like syndrome. I started in Dahab, south Sinai. It is a bit random, a friend mentioned it , easy and cheap to get too. They have a blue hole which goes straight to 95 meters down. The entire fishing village is a world center destination for freediving, scuba diving. Dahab used to be part of the Nabataean Kingdom , mostly bedouins having a good time from 300 B.C until 106 A.D when the Roman took over and ruined everything . Then the Ottoman came around and imposed their rules, culture and religion. The israeli came in after WW2 and now Egypt. There is an odd mix of culture , rather entertaining. South Sinai is the only part of Egypt situated in Asia. The peninsula acquired the name due to the assumption that a mountain near saint catherine monastery (Roman invasion) is the biblical mount Sinai. Assumption largely contested . The ancient égyptien and bedouins called it “ta mefkat “ or land of turquoise. Turquoise mined not in this turquoise water but in the red limestones mountains you see in the background since at least 3000 BCE. Logic was strong back then. Dahab is mostly bedouin and less Egyptian it seems, a more chilled attitude , very bohemian, the town is very cozy, like a small fishing port without much concrete. People are very nice and everyone is settled back. The water is turquoise, the mountains are red, multicolored fishes everywhere, corals and good food. There is prayer 5 times a day. And plastic trash and other cig butt all over. By comparison Sharm el sheik seemed more like a concrete jungle, expensive, check points everywhere and stressed out Egyptians. I took my classes at the dahabfreediving center who are an awesome cosmopolite crew of passionate freediving bums. The center and classes are tight and very pro. Each coach have their own style which makes it fun . Some were better at pushing me other good at relaxing me and showing me good technique. My progress was a bit slow due to my sinuses exploding a couple of times. It was very fun and i am ready for more.
Dahab is very often windy so windsurfers and kitesurfer have a blast
One of the main subject of the free diving courses is safety. Diving partner need to be able to dive 1/3 of the diver goal depth and follow the ascent looking for signs of loss of motor control or black out and act accordingly . It also helps the diver on the climb to relax. It’s nice on the climb up to see a relaxed body and I usually mimic it , neck and torso loosen up. Tension and stress use oxygen …
my first shot was this. Dahab is beautiful and cute but the trash management is a disaster. Trash don’t get picked everyday and the cats dogs goat and wind get into it first. It is everywhere. I dont think this will be resolved until the international industry stop producing plastic or other non biodegradable products.
I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau video, swimming with whales was always a dream of mine. I took the excuse of a needed photography course to do so. Editing and Taking pictures of orcas underwater in the darkness of the arctic winter sounds technically challenging enough. One of the best in marine photography Darren Jew was the host as well as a marine biologist who gave us a lot of betas, science and datas. It took me 2 days to get used to the underwater gear and I’m still learning the tricks of pushing the technical limits of my sensor as well as the do’s and don’t in post editing. This week was absolutely stellar, visually brilliant , and very cold…swimming with whales and orcas is spiritually enriching.
The orcas for the past 7 years had been in around Tromso, in the ervfjord. However, they follow the herrings. The water in ervfjord was 10c too warm, the salmond farm are depleting the water of oxygen and the herrings usually change location every 10 years or so, which one had them to move up north east to skervoy this year is unclear, but we had to move camp to Havness. we spent most our days on a boat, it took us 1 hour to go from Havnnes to Skervoy, once around skervoy, we were hoping to find them feeding on a ball bait of herring which makes it easy to take photos. When they are chasing salmond or just socializing, it is very difficult to get in the water on time before they vanish especially when they are not in the mood. Most the time we end up jumping in, maybe take a shot, back on boat, cold as hell, find a few other, jump in…and so on…
But on the 3rd day freezing our asses off , jumping on and off , getting blurry shots, we found a fish net full of herrings with a dozens mostly adults male orcas roaming around. It was epic, special. We swam in the warmth of the water for 2 hours and all got pretty rad shots…
Of course, The arctic offers us an exploding sky which adds to the dreamy unreal trip i am on
a few facts
there are about 50 -100 K orcas worldwide. 3 types with 3 different diets including transients orcas eating mostly marine mammals like in antartica and residents orcas eating mostly fish like in norway or canada. In canada , the wild chinook salmond is vanishing due to salmond farms, orcas don’t eat farmed salmond and are found dead, starvation. In ersfjord near tromso , salmond farm sucked the oxygen out of the water, the water temp raised, herrings moved north so did the orcas and us. In the world, there are still some moronic idiotic humans who think those animals belong in a pool, they are still captured worldwide. Each pods speak a complete different languages, 2 different pods can’t understand each other, when they capture orcas, very often , they mix different Types (transient, residents, off shore) which have different diet but also from different pods so they can’t communicate. Those morons try to give fish to transient orcas and they die…they are called killer whales, they are big and dark but they have a big heart. they are closer to the dolphin than anything else. Catch 22: in norway, fishermans want to bring the whale and orcas quota up because, they say, they eat all the fish. The whale watching tourism bring more money than fishing. So it was refused. But, there are some abuse and more and more people harass those animals, chasing them, trying to touch them….it is bad ethic. I saw it.
I spent 1 month volunteering in Namibia-naankuse, south-Africa-Kevin Richardson and Zambia. I found volunteering is the best way to go for countries in southern Africa. The money goes straight into conservation effort, working and spending time with local is very enriching, i get a better understanding of the conservation work and limitations , and I get a more intimate experience with wild species..
Season 2016/17 is officially the worst since i arrived in chamonix in 2005. People do ski and have fun but i would need the same inspiration than when I ski in August or July. It isn’t there so i work. My seasonal job this year is transfer driver. It translate into probably 30 000 Km since i started. I like it, i like the road. It unfurl the mind with its load of oddity and glitches. Like a Lynch movie. It is a good recipe to clear the brain up. or at least for me . Everything seems to make sense. almost.
the good stuff of 2016
I bought 3 music albums.
Le trio Joubran-as fâr and Majâz. Amazing music from palestine!
radiohead a moon shaped pool.
ben milstein-untitled EP : sweet intricate electro
I bought one ski movie: Sam favret : backyard: sweet film showing the chamonix backyard and sam’s crew. Amazing imagery and editing.
Manley is still my favorite .
and also: la liste where jeremy heitz show us how to ski steep today.
2016 started at the infamous berghain
All kind of Chamonix happened.